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Thornton returns home to Drogheda

A DECADE after he made his name in the English Premier League, former Ireland U21 cap Seán Thornton will try his luck with hometown club Drogheda United next season.

New Drogheda boss John McDonnell, aided by No. 2 Mark Kinsella, is building a new-look squad for the County Louth outfit for 2015 with a number of new signings.

And while some United fans will be glad to see local lad Seán Brennan come home to play for the club after a spell with Athlone Town it's the arrival of midfielder Thornton which has created most interest in the town.

Having started out with Tranmere Rovers, Thornton made a high-profile move to Sunderland in 2002 and made 11 Premier League appearances in the ill-fated 2002/03 season which saw the Black Cats relegated.

The midfielder struggled to reach those heights again and after spells with Doncaster, Orient and Shrewsbury, he moved into Welsh football in 2011.

Having lined out for three Welsh League clubs, most recently Bala Town, he's now opted to return to Ireland and line out for Drogheda.

"It's something I've always wanted to do having spent nearly 16 years in the UK. I'm a local lad who wanted to play for his local town and I'm delighted that the deal is done.

"It was an easy decision and I had no interest in going anywhere else when I came home," says Thornton.

"I can't say that I know too much about the quality of the League of Ireland. I've been to a few games over the years and from what I've heard the standard is quite good.

"The players have a high fitness level which should be expected in the modern game but I'll find out all about the league after a few games and I'm really looking forward to the challenge.

"I've no individual goals for next season as the main aim will be to do well as a group.

"Obviously, Drogheda didn't have the best of seasons last year so with a new manager in I think things should be looking up this year. Cup competitions will be a big incentive for us as well," added Thornton.

Drogheda have seen a number of departures since the end of last season - Seán Brennan will not get to line out alonside his brother Gavin as he has joined Shamrock Rovers - with Gary O'Neill confirming his retirement and Gavin Holohan (Cork City), Shane Grimes (Dundalk) and Declan O'Brien (Glenavon) also leaving with O'Brien scoring a hat-trick on his debut for the Irish League side last week.

McDonnell has signed up Alan Byrne (Athone), James Kavanagh (UCD) as well as recruiting former Bohemians player and ex-Ireland youth cap Neil Yadolahi, following a spell in Armenia.